Is Going to the Gym Enough to Prevent Chronic Disease?

The average American spends the majority of each day sitting—whether it be in a car, on the couch, or at a desk. Some exercise routinely but still live a sedentary lifestyle.

What is physical inactivity?

It refers to a lifestyle containing little or no physical activity.

As Americans, we race from the traffic-jammed highways to our constricting desks at work. But is this type of lifestyle increasing the risk for chronic disease?

Active Lifestyle

Researchers at the University of Missouri say “yes”. They have found that physical inactivity, a lifestyle led by a quarter of Americans, is “the primary cause of chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and fatty liver disease.” And according to John Thyfault, assistant professor in the departments of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology and Internal Medicine, exercise may not be enough to combat the risk.  Thyfault claims, “If people spend the majority of their time sitting, even with regular periods of exercise, they are still at greater risk for chronic diseases.”

Chronic Disease 

In addition to diabetes and obesity, one type of chronic disease is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which “is a relatively new epidemic related to the recent increase in obesity and physical inactivity rates”, explains Scott Rector, assistant professor in the departments of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology and Internal Medicine.  Although a new epidemic, NAFLD is the most common chronic liver condition among adults in the United States.  As a result of excess fat in the liver, the body possesses a stronger resistance to insulin which can ultimately lead to type II diabetes.

So what’s the solution?

I recommend taking at least 10,000 steps each day.

Making small changes to daily routines can gradually increase this number and thereby prevent the weight gain that can raise the risk of chronic disease. Going to the gym regularly will often not be enough—it takes conscious daily changes in order to lead a fully active lifestyle.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator and plane time for short walks throughout the day.

On average, Europeans walk 10,000 steps per day, while twenty-five percent of Americans take less than 5,000 steps per day. In addition to making daily changes, the use of a pedometer watch can assist in getting more steps per day.

My recommendation for getting in more ‘steps per day’ is using a watch-pedometer (includes a heart rate as well):  I have a New Balance HRT FIT, although you can purchase any of these from Google Shopping Link

While merely going to the gym may not be enough to prevent chronic disease, incorporating exercise and activity into daily routine, in addition to limiting intake of high-caloric foods, are the best solutions.